All posts by Baby Knowledge

Common Newborn Conditions and when to see a Doctor

These conditions are very common in new born babies. Should you notice any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice.

Abdominal Distension

If in between feeds your newborns tummy sticks out and is quite hard when you touch it or he is vomiting or hasn’t had any bowel movement for 2 days, it may be a sign of an intestinal problem. It could just be that he has bad wind or constipation but you should get him checked by a doctor.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries happen and can often go unnoticed. The most common birth injury is a broken collar bone or muscle weakness. A broken collar bone will heal reasonably quickly, particularly if you are made aware of it and have kept it as motionless as possible. In some cases, a small lump is spotted a few weeks after birth at the site of the injury. This is the new bone forming and is evidence your newborn is healing.

Muscle weakness is caused by stretching of the nerves attached to your little ones muscles during labour/birth. If one side of your newborns body (usually an arm or shoulder) or face doesn’t appear to be as active as the other side you should seek medical advice, you will be given advice on how to handle, hold and feed your baby in order to promote healing. This usually corrects itself after a few weeks.

Blue Baby

Your newborn may have blue hands or blue feet when cold and may have a blue face, tongue and lips when crying excessively. Once your child has warmed up or has calmed down her skin colour should return to normal shortly afterwards. If your baby’s skin is blue more often than this it may be a sign of a heart or lung problem, particularly if this is coupled with breathing and/or feeding difficulties. Blue skin is a sign that your child is not receiving enough oxygen, this requires immediate medical attention.

Coughing

Your child may cough and splutter when drinking too fast, when trying water the first few times or if your breast milk has a fast flow, however, if he coughs or gags routinely when feeding you should consult your doctor. This may be caused by a lung or intestinal problem.

Excessive Crying

Newborns cry for many reasons and you should firstly ensure she is clean, fed, not tired, burped and warm. If this, along with you cuddling and comforting her doesn’t work and her cry is different to her normal one such as shrieks of pain or it is prolonged for an unusual amount of time, you should seek medical advice. It may be your baby is in pain or is ill.

Forceps Marks

When forceps are used to help deliver a baby, they will usually leave marks or scrapes on your newborns skin. On some occasions there will be lumps, this is due to the tissue bring damaged under the skin. If you are concerned about the marks left by forceps you should discuss this with your midwife/health visitor but, on most occasions these marks and lumps will clear up within 8 weeks.

Jaundice

Many healthy newborns have a mild case of jaundice; a slight yellow tinge to their skin. However, in some cases it can be extremely serious and lead to brain or nervous system damage. Jaundice is most commonly caused by a newborns liver not yet functioning properly, the liver is responsible for removing bilirubin from the blood stream. Bilirubin is formed by the body’s natural breakdown of red blood cells. If your midwife is worried about jaundice in your newborn, tests will be arranged and appropriate treatment given if required (usually light therapy). Breastfeeding 8-12 times a day will also help a newborn suffering from jaundice (it seems to be more common in breastfed babies, possibly due to not feeding well). You should always check with your midwife or doctor if you are worried about jaundice or jaundice has developed/worsened since your newborns last check.

Sleepiness and lethargy

Newborns tend to sleep for the majority of the day to begin with, thus is completely normal. If your baby doesn’t wake for feeds, doesn’t seem interested in feeds when awake or seems uninterested or lethargic you should seek medical advice immediately, particularly if this is a change to your newborns usual behaviour.

Breathing difficulties

Three or four hours after bring born, your baby should have already developed carefully breathing pattern. If you notice a change in this pattern or if she is taking over 60 breaths per minute you should seek medical advice.
In most cases, breathing problems are caused by a blocked nose which can be easily fixed with saline drops and a bulb syringe, these are available from pharmacies. If however you notice any if the following symptoms you should seek medical advice immediately:

  • Breathing faster than usual (more than sixty breaths in one minute), although babies do breathe more rapidly than adults.
  • Retractions (sucking in the muscles between the ribs with each breath, so that her ribs stick out)
  • Flaring her nose
  • Grunting whilst breathing
  • Persistent blue skin coloring
  • Reference: AAP,

    When to start a bed time routine?

    When to start a bedtime routine is a popular question from many new parents and there is a lot of conflicting advice out there. This post will help you to decide when to start with a bedtime routine, what you need to consider and which sort of routine is best for you.

    When should I start it?

    it is never too early to start a bedtime routine, most people suggest starting it at around 6-8 weeks but there is absolutely no harm in starting a good bedtime routine from day one and adapting it slightly as your child grows. For example, in the first week or so you may top and tail your newborn before bed and once the umbilical stump has fallen off start bathing him. Over time you will find what works well and what is pivotal to the routine working.

    What does a good routine involve?

    A bed time routine should have a calming influence that relaxes and reassures your baby. Over time your newborn will come to expect each and every structured step and will accept that last step as being time to sleep. A good routine should include a bath, a story or stories, some cuddles, calming background music and dimly lit lights. It will also help if you incorporate a massage. The routine should start no later than 30 minutes before bedtime although some routines can take up to one hour. It should be a calm, enjoyable environment that is geared towards calming down and relaxing both body and mind (no bright lights or loud games/music).

    How do I know what will work?

    in simple terms, a good routine is a good routine and the routine you choose is determined by you. Don’t set yourself up to fail by making it too complex. The best and most effective routines are the most simple as they are easy to follow, calming for both Mum (and Dad) and baby, and are most likely to be implemented long term rather than you giving up after a week or so because it is so exhausting. After 5-7 days of using the same routine you should notice an improvement in your child’s attitude to going to sleep and ability to fall asleep unaided. As your child grows this will also aid your child to sleep for longer periods at night time as her body will have recognised the difference between day and night and her feeding and day time naps will be aligned towards this cycle.

    Does my baby have reflux?

    What is reflux? What are the symptoms? How can it be treated? When should I contact my doctor? Reflux in babies is very common but in some cases can be a very serious condition.

    What is reflux?

    Reflux (gastro oesophageal reflux or GOR) is the name given to the condition that causes the contents of the stomach to involuntarily move upwards into the oesophagus and some times out of the mouth (the oesophagus is the tube that carries food and liquid from the mouth to the stomach). When the contents rise out of the stomach it can be painful for baby as it also contains acids. It is common in children under 2 years of age but most cases clear up between the age of 12-14 months. If the symptoms continue after 12-14 months or the symptoms are more severe, such as poor feeding and/or vomiting it may be that your child has gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), this is a more serious, long-lasting condition that will need to be managed. If you suspect your child has GORD you should contact your GP immediately.

    What causes it?

    We all have a ‘valve’ at the bottom of our oesophagus that prevents food and stomach acids from rising, this valve is a muscle and takes time to develop. Whilst this valve (or sphincter) is still developing it may push stomach contents up the wrong way. This is why the symptoms of GOR usually stop at around 12-14 months. Serious cases of reflux (GORD) are often caused by the muscle becoming weak or relaxing when it shouldn’t.

    What are the signs and symptoms?

    Babies with GOR will commonly show only a few symptoms such as spitting up or display an obvious discomfort during (or shortly after) feeding. The symptoms of GORD are as follows:

  • Regularly vomits
  • Regularly coughs
  • Appears to gag or have trouble swallowing
  • Has had pneumonia or breathing problems
  • Wheezing
  • Is irritable, particularly after feeding
  • Arches her back during or immediately after feeding
  • Doesn’t feed well or refuses to feed
  • Poor weight gain – dropping below centile
  • Weight loss
  • Poor growth
  • Malnutrition
  • Colic
  • When should I see my GP?

    If you suspect your baby may have reflux or she is experiencing some of the above mentioned symptoms , you should discuss this with your GP immediately. On some occasions, further investigation will be required to determine if your child has GOR (gastro oesophageal reflux) or GORD (gastro oesophageal reflux disease).

    How can it be treated?

    If your child is only displaying a few of the above symptoms and is generally in good health, is gaining weight as expected and feeding well then making small changes can have a positive impact. These should be discussed with your GP but most commonly involve using a thicker formula or thickening the current formula (with gaviscon), feeding a smaller amount more frequently, positioning your baby in an upright position when feeding and keeping her upright for as long as time possible afterwards. You could also try elevating one end of your baby’s bed with bed blocks or a wedge. If the above doesn’t help you may be referred to a paediatrician for further tests where medication will most likely be prescribed and further monitoring scheduled.

    My first born had reflux and ended up having to be bottle fed a prescribed thick formula milk from 6 weeks old. She was also prescribed Domperidone and Ranitadine which we had to give before each feed. Fortunately it wasn’t so serious that she lost weight or didn’t gain weight properly but it was a worry. If you would like to discuss my experience of having a child with reflux get in touch on Twitter or Facebook. I hope you found this post helpful.

    References: US department of health babyreflux

    How to handle and hold a new born baby

    You may be shocked at how fragile your newborn looks particularly if you have little or no experience of holding a baby. You won’t necessarily know how to do it instinctively but it will help your confidence if you know you know the correct way of holding and handling your precious little newborn. Here’s how:
    The first cuddle
    Emotions are high and your baby will need reassuring. I recommend being propped up in a bed (usually a hospital one) and placing your newborn on your chest (on his tummy), particularly if you plan to breastfeed. There is nothing like skin to skin between mother and baby. I wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘how’s’ as there will be a midwife to help you, however, if skin to skin is important to you, ensure it is in your birth plan and you or your partner have told the midwife this.

    Picking baby up
    Your newborns head is large and heavy when compared to the rest of his body, his neck muscles aren’t strong enough to support the weight of it. When picking your baby up, slide one hand under his head and the other under his bottom, you can then manoeuvre him into the position you want. The most popular way of holding a baby is either cradling or placing him on your shoulder.
    Cradling
    If you have picked your newborn up as stated above and you want to cradle, you will want your newborns head to rest in the arm that is supporting his head. To do this, bring your little one close to your chest, slide the hand that is holding his bottom up to support his head (so your arm is under his back), at the same time, slowly move the hand that was supporting his head around his body to his bottom, his head should now be resting on your arm and your other hand can be free. This position is perfect for eye contact, talking and sleeping.
    On your shoulder
    Your baby’s head can rest on your shoulder but it will need supporting if you are walking around or going up and down stairs etc. one hand will always need to be under his bottom supporting his weight. This position is great for closeness as your newborn may be able to feel your heartbeat and is also good for winding (burping).
    Passing baby around Everyone will want to have a cuddle with your newborn and some will be more experienced than others, the safest way to pass a newborn to someone else is to have them sitting down with their arms in the cradle position, you then pick your baby up as stated above and gently place him into the other persons arms. This is particularly good for children or elderly people want a turn!

    Try to handle your newborn confidently, this will help to reassure him and make him feel safe and secure. This is fundamental to having a content happy baby. Remember, never shake your baby, never throw (in play or otherwise) or drop him and always support his head. If you do that, you won’t go far wrong. I hope you found this post helpful.

    Resources: kidshealth, wikihow

    20 tips to encourage your baby to talk

    There are many things you can do, pretty much from day one, that will help your baby’s language development. Here are my top 20 tips on encouraging baby to talk.

    From day one

  • Always maintain eye contact when you are talking or singing to him (more so than you would an adult).
  • When talking to her, nod your head enthusiastically at every sound she makes, it may help you if you say “yes” or “I know” when doing this.
  • Pull funny faces at him and make funny noises, stick your tongue out and make ooh (pout) and aaagh (think dentist trip) mouth shapes (with accompanying sounds).
  • Sing nursery rhymes with hand gestures such as the wheels on the bus, incy wincy spider, row row row etc. You may also want to look at a local baby signing class.
  • Read books regularly and enthusiastically. Discover things for the first time with your baby, over and over again. Point to the pictures and tell him what it is.
  • Be enthusiastic; over empathise words and your pitch, particularly when asking questions or discovering ‘new’ things.
  • As your baby grows

  • Continue talking and pointing out objects, people and all of the above
  • Allow her time to gurgle and reply with your own baby sounds, this will teach her how conversations work.
  • Keep the tv switched off – this is a distraction for you both.
  • Call your child by her name at the start of each conversation, this will help her to recognise her own name and help you get her attention.
  • Be patient with your child when he starts to formulate small sentences and never finish a sentence for him.
  • Restrict dummy use to sleep time only, it’s hard to talk and even harder to be understood when you have a dummy in your mouth.
  • Use as many hand gestures as you can, this helps to reinforce meaning and build associations.
  • Explain to your child what is happening on an ongoing basis “We are going to have some breakfast now, can you sit in your big chair?”
  • Give your child options, for example, show her some fruit and ask “Would you like a banana or strawberry?” Your child will soon start making her own choices.
  • Once your child can copy sounds

  • Point out colours
  • Discover animal sounds together – “Here is a cow, the cow says moo. Can you say moo?”
  • Count items
  • Discover new songs/nursery rhymes together
  • Continue to discover new things together with the same enthusiasm as before.
  • The most important thing is to talk and to listen to your child. Empower him to start conversations and encourage his inquisitiveness about the world around him. Always make time and take the time to listen to your child and never rush him. If at any point you are concerned about your child’s language development, go and see your GP. Don’t wait for a routine check! I hope you found this page helpful.

    References:NHS, Asha